John Daniel Singleton (January 6, 1968 – April 29, 2019) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer best known for directing Boyz n the Hood (1991), for which he was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, becoming, at age 24, the first African American and youngest person to have ever been nominated for that award. Singleton was a native of South Los Angeles, and many of his films, such as Poetic Justice (1993), Higher Learning (1995), and Baby Boy (2001), consider the implications of inner-city violence. He also directed the drama Rosewood (1997) and the action films Shaft (2000), 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003), and Four Brothers (2005). He co-created the television crime drama Snowfall.
Singleton was born in Los Angeles, the son of Sheila Ward-Johnson, a pharmaceutical company sales executive, and Danny Singleton, a real estate agent, mortgage broker, and financial planner. He attended Blair High School, Pasadena City College and the USC School of Cinematic Arts. He graduated from USC in 1990, and was a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity.
Singleton had considered pursuing computer science, but enrolled in USC’s Filmic Writing program under Margaret Mehring. The program was designed to take students directly into the Hollywood system as proficient writer/directors. He cited the original Star Wars film as one of his strongest influences, and the work of Steven Spielberg as a source of inspiration.
Singleton’s film debut Boyz n the Hood (1991), an inner city drama starring Cuba Gooding, Jr., Angela Bassett, Ice Cube, and Laurence Fishburne, was both a critical and commercial success. For his efforts, Singleton received Academy Award nominations for Best Original Screenplay and Best Director. At age 24 he was the youngest person ever nominated for Best Director, and the first African-American to be nominated for the award. (Four others – Lee Daniels, Barry Jenkins, Jordan Peele, and Spike Lee – have been nominated since.) The film has since attained classic status and, in 2002, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film “culturally significant” and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry.
His directing ability led to the VFX-driven “Remember the Time” music video for Michael Jackson, which featured Eddie Murphy, Iman and Magic Johnson. His next films were Poetic Justice (1993) and Higher Learning (1995), which were similarly socially conscious and received mixed to positive reviews.
The film Rosewood (1997), Singleton’s historical drama about racial violence, was entered into the 47th Berlin International Film Festival. Both this film and Baby Boy (2001) received very positive reviews and helped establish Singleton’s critical reputation. Additionally, his adaptation of Shaft (2000), starring Samuel L. Jackson in the title role, was successful critically and commercially.
Singleton later turned to directing action films, such as 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) and Four Brothers (2005), which received mixed reviews. In 2005, Singleton teamed with Craig Brewer and financed the independent film Hustle and Flow, once it was clear that most other major backers would not clear it for release.
It was announced in 2013 that Singleton was attached as director of a Tupac Shakur biography film. On April 3, 2015, Singleton reported that production was put on hold. Four days later, it was announced that following creative differences with Morgan Creek Productions, Singleton had stepped down as director, and was replaced by Carl Franklin. Singleton also stated he was planning on making a competing film about Tupac.
After directing episodes of the critically acclaimed TV shows Empire and American Crime Story, he served as an executive producer of the crime drama series Rebel for BET and co-created Snowfall for FX.
On August 23, 2007, Singleton was involved in an automobile accident in which he struck a jaywalking pedestrian, Constance Russell, 57, of Los Angeles. Staying on the scene until police arrived, Singleton was not under the influence of alcohol or other substances, and was released after being questioned. Russell died later in the hospital. The case was turned over to the District Attorney but no charges were ever filed.
Criticism of Hollywood
On March 19, 2014, Singleton criticized popular studios for “refusing to let African-Americans direct black-themed films”. Singleton told an audience of students at Loyola Marymount University “They ain’t letting the black people tell the stories.” He also added, “They want black people [to be] what they want them to be. And nobody is man enough to go and say that. They want black people to be who they want them to be, as opposed to what they are. The black films now—so-called black films now—they’re great. They’re great films. But they’re just product. They’re not moving the bar forward creatively. …When you try to make it homogenized, when you try to make it appeal to everybody, then you don’t have anything that’s special.”
Sexual harassment allegation
In 2017, Singleton was accused of sexual harassment by Danielle Young, a journalist who interviewed him.
Death and legacy
On April 17, 2019, Singleton suffered a stroke and was placed under intensive care. He reportedly began to experience weakness in his legs after returning to the United States from a trip to Costa Rica. On April 25, it was reported that he was in a coma, but his daughter claimed otherwise. On April 29, Singleton was removed from life support, and he died at the age of 51 at Cedars-Sinai Hospital. He is survived by his mother, Sheila Ward, his father, Danny Singleton and his children Justice, Maasai, Hadar, Cleopatra, Selenesol, Isis, and Seven.
Many actors and musicians paid tribute to him, including Devon Aoki, Tyra Banks, Angela Bassett, Don Cheadle, Morris Chestnut, Snoop Dogg, Omar Epps, Tyrese Gibson, Omar Gooding, Cole Hauser, Taraji P. Henson, Jason Isaacs, Janet Jackson, Samuel L. Jackson, Regina King, Taylor Lautner, Nia Long, Ludacris, Lori Petty, Q-Tip, Michael Rapaport, Busta Rhymes, Kristy Swanson, Mark Wahlberg and Jeffrey Wright.
Rapper and actor Ice Cube who worked with Singleton in Boyz N The Hood and Higher Learning said: “There are no words to express how sad I am to lose my brother, friend & mentor. He loved bring the black experience to the world.”
Bio Source: wikipedia